Sunday, May 22, 2011


Today was a beautiful sunny day in the 60s.  What a gorgeous day to go to Hester Street Market in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan by Chinatown.  Every Saturday, from May to October, this market will have several booths offering young designer's creative products from jewelry, clothing and even cupcake and pie shaped soaps.  But most of all, I love to try new entrepreneurs creating new twists on food.

When we arrived at Hester Street Market, we first went around to see what food vendors were are participating this year.  The first one at the entrance was the cookie ice cream sandwich booth.  That'll be good on the way out.  So, we checked out the different vendors and decided to eat our first course for lunch at Mighty Balls.

This booth makes pork, beef, or vegetable balls and put them in mini buns for sliders.  You can choose which sauce and cheese to put in your meatball slider.

On the right is the menu board of Mighty Balls.

To the Left is the pork meatball slider with spicy feta cheese and African onion Jalapeno.

To the right is the beef meatball slider with blue cheese and Not Your Average Brown Sauce
I highly recommend to try these.

The next booth we tried was Brooklyn Taco.  They made their own fresh soft tortilla and looked quite good.

Left: I chose Chilorio Brisket which was delicious with some mangoes in it.

Right:  Cola + Citrus braised Pork, also served with lime on the side, cheese and mango - which was equally good.
We were there for the afternoon so we couldn't resist to try the next booth:  LA SONRISA. They specialized in empanadas.

La Sonrisa Menu Board

 I've always had a quest for a real good empanada.  Growing up, I remember empanadas with flaky dough filled with either beef, pork, tuna or chicken.  Only once, when I used to live in Chicago, have I had the empanadas as flaky as I remember them growing up.  Since then, I've had good empanada filling (which I can make) but have not had this flaky crust even in my recent visit to the Philippines or even Argentina!
So, I had to try this.
After a bite of the empanada, THIS is the closest to my empanada quest.  They serve them fresh (not cold which ruins it).  When it cooled down, I took a bite and I was delighted how thin the crust was!  The filling was so juicy, that you better grab more napkins to eat them.  They had some hot sauce on the side for those who like them a little spicy.
 With all that spicy sauce, you should try their homemade lemonade with cucumber and mint:

Luke Lobster was one of the food vendors who is there too.  I've had Luke Lobster in a bun before, which I love.  But with so much to try, I skipped it this time.  (If you've never had Luke Lobster's lobster sandwich, it's definitely a cut above most lobster sandwiches.  They not only have claw meat in them but also the tail.) You can read more about Luke Lobster from one of my other posts.  You can use the search bar for lobsters or Luke's Lobster.

It was time for some sweets.  I'm a big fan of macarons.  I had to stop at Macaron Parlour's booth.  Simon Tung and his partner are the chefs or baker.
Their macarons are distributed to Saks Fifth Avenue's food area.



                                        Above, is what the bacon macaron looks like when split.

Before the end of the day, we couldn't leave without trying

This is the Banana-Nana Split from
Melt Bakery

Melt Bakery has 5 different ice cream cookies to choose from.  We were stuffed so we only sampled one.

This booth was not edible but it fit right in.  They made soaps in the shape of cupcakes, pies, and mini bundt cakes.

Don't miss the opportunity to stop by at Hester Street Market.
How to get there?  By subway, the nearest stop is Delancey Street where the F, J, & M is a block away.
Or, you can take the M15 on 2nd Avenue (take the Select Bus if you can - it's faster and stops right at Hester Street) - otherwise, the regular M15 bus stops at Grand Street.

A new addition to Hester Street Market for 2012 is
Kitty Lee Thomas Sweets
Kitty Lee Thomas Sweets specializes in flavored marshmallows.  Some of them are enrobed in either milk chocolate or dark chocolate with studs of various nuts they feel like adding on.  For Cinco de Mayo, they made a lime based "peeps" and a vanilla bourbon hat.
The green lime "cactus" shaped marshmallows were delicious.  And on the left is the jar containing the vanlla bourbon Mexican shaped hat marshmallos

Kitty Lee Thomas takes orders and can cater but does not have an official storefront.

Hester Street Market is on Hester Street and Essex.  Don't forget, it's only there on Saturdays!

RAMPS - A very seasonal vegetable

Ramps are like Spring onions with roots but broad green leaves.  They only appear between April and mid June.  When I see them, I immediately grab to buy them and cook them at home.  They have a garlicky-onion taste; so they don't need much seasoning.

After you bring them home, wash it only before you cook them.
But first trim the roots out!
Put the cleaned ramps in a pan. (I'm using a wok here) with about 3TB of olive oil.
Just wait for the leaves to wilt in the pan keeping its beautiful bright green color.  Season the ramps with sea salt (fleur de sel) and serve.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


In the past 5 years, all kinds of cupcake stores have popped up.  I think I've tried them all.  I especially like the kind that'sstuffed inside.  The combination of flavors have been ingenious!  Finally, a different concept in cupcakes - mini; stuffed and colorfully decorated!  I'm talking about Baked By Melissa Cupcakes.

She has found the greatest secret of all, mini.  I'm talking mini as the size of an hors d'oeuvres tartlette-size moist and delicious with stuffing.  She sells them for $1 each or $11 for 12 etc...

The particular branch I went to was at 7 E 14th Street:
The board from where to order your cupcakes at the store
Shelves of cupcakes are displayed for you to choose from several flavors.

The Menu to choose from is artfully yet simply displayed.
The names are catchy too.

I ordered these cupcakes to go and their box had holes to take them safely home.  That's paying attention to details!

Demonstrating how tiny the cupcake is.
When cut-up, you can see the filling inside.  I can't imagine filling up such tiny delicate cupcakes!

I took it home to serve it nicely on a dessert plate.
The idea of mini cupcakes is the fact that you can taste a variety of flavors without gaining too much weight!
And best of all, they not only taste delicious, they look very attractive!

Monday, May 16, 2011


Years ago, I bought an authentic crepe pan. Now, I just go to a place where they make crepes.

Many countries have their own version of fried bread. In Mexico, it is the tortilla. In the United States, it is the pancake. Native Americans developed their own equivalent as well—fry bread. One of the most well known forms of fried bread—the crepe—is attributed to France.

Savory fillings can include fruits, cheese, vegetables, meat, and sometimes eggs. Crepe shops both in France and the United States offer enough variety for customers to order meals—both main dish and dessert—consisting entirely of crepes.

Yesterday, while I was in Greenwich Village, I passed by Creperie, a tiny store that sell only crepes at MacDougal Street.  It was 4PM and close to dinner; but with no lunch, I decided to have the dark chocolate crepe with raspberries.  Here's how she made it:

And the outcome was this delicious dark chocolate-raspberry crepe which I ate with fresh squeezed lemonade. 

Now, if you don't want to go out and look for a crepe place, and you don't want to make the crepes from scratch, there are some stores that sell crepes from Belgium or France in a package.  You can warm that up and put your own filling.  Or, you can fill it up with what I had.

Creperie also in the East Village at Ludlow St.
112 MacDougal St
New York, NY 10012
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
(212) 256-6705

Turtle Bay Apartments | Prudential Douglas Elliman

Turtle Bay Apartments Prudential Douglas Elliman
You can rent this apartment and try cooking the recipes you find at
Set up your eat-in area by the window and enjoy the Chrysler view!



Panettone has become a national symbol of the Italian Christmas, and lately assimilated into the festivities of many other Catholic countries, however, this celebrated ancient bread is a typical product of the gastronomic tradition of Milan . Over the centuries, a great number of legends have grown up around the origins of this dessert. It is said for example that a certain Toni, a Milanese baker in the service of Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, invented the panettone, which was called “pan de toni”……toni,s bread in his honor.

In the 1606 reprint of ‘Raccolta delle Parole Milanesi dichiarate”, a collection of Milanese dialectical terms, edited by Giuseppe Capis, panaton was defined as a “large bread, which is made on Christmas day”. Alessandro Manzoni, a 19th-century Italian author who wrote the famous novel “I promessi sposi”, describes how Renzo Tramaglino, one of the book’s protagonists, goes in the 16th century from the countryside to Milan, where he is astounded to find ”round, very white bread” which was not usually eaten in rural areas.

(serves 2)
Pannetone sliced about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
2 extra large eggs
1/3 c half and half
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla
Freshly grated nutmeg
dash of salt

Butter for frying
Maple syrup for serving
More butter

Combine the first 6 ingredients except for the pannetone slices, in a large bowl and beat well.  Dip the slices of pannetone bread a few seconds to absorb the liquid on both sides.  Do not soak.

Heat griddle and melt 1 TB butter and spread it around the griddle.  Fry the dipped pannetone about 2 minutes on each side in  medium heat.  Remove and keep warm.

The egg mixture in the bowl next to the raisin Pannetone.  (You can use any version of the Pannetone)

Fry the dipped Pannetone in buttered hot griddle

Suggested serving:  Butter on top with warm maple syrup and thick-cut pepper bacon

What is certain is that panettone developed by degrees. Made initially with simple, standard ingredients, it was gradually enriched through the addition of more sophisticated products. In the 1818 edition of Francesco Cherubini’s “Vocabolario Milanese Italiano”, panettone was described as follows. “Panatton or Panatton de Natal. A type of bread from wheat flour enriched with butter, eggs, sugar and raisins, or sultanas; the surface of the dough is cut in an almond shape so that the result, after baking, is numerous crescents. Its weight of about one kilo or more, and made only at Christmas.
Since candied fruit is not mentioned, it is obvious that the practice of adding it was introduced later. While panettone has become the symbol of the Italian Christmas, it is a delectable dessert that deserves to be appreciated through the year.

SQUAB Dinner - How to cook

In culinary terminology, squab (probably of Scandinavian descent; skvabb, meaning "loose, fat flesh")[1] is a young domestic pigeon or its meat. The word squab was formerly used to describe young birds from several species, but has since come to mean young pigeons and their meat.[2][3] Squabs are raised to the age of roughly a month before being killed for eating;[3][4][5] they have reached adult size but have not yet flown.[3] The practice of domesticating pigeon as livestock may have come from the Middle East;[6] historically, squabs or pigeons have been consumed in many civilizations, including Ancient Egypt, Rome and Medieval Europe.[3]

Probably one of my favorite dishes - besides duck, foie gras, smoked salmon (has to be the right kind), and caviar.
Packet of Asian Roast Duck seasoning (found in many Asian stores)
Safflower oil
Cilantro leaves
Wedges of lemon

Wash the squab and season with Roast duck seasoning. Then brush with oil.

Place squabs on roasting pan and bake at preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 40-45 minutes.  Remove and let sit for 10 minutes.

Meantime, cut up the scallions about 1 inch length and slice half way

After cutting the scallions 1 inch length and sliced thinly halfway or use the gadget above which I bought from a Japanese store that sells kitchen wares.

After you roast the squab for about 40 minutes, let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Decorate it with the sliced scallions, cilantro leaves and wedge of lemon.

Since the squab is a small bird, it can be served wholly for one person.  Here, steamed French greenbeans was served as vegetables to go with the squab.
*Done right, it must be moist and juicy inside.  Let sit after cooking before serving. Don not overcook.
You can also mix some salt, pepper, ground 5-spice of equal parts mixed on the side for seasoning on top when served.

Monday, May 9, 2011

GOTHAM 50 - 2-day old restaurant in NYC

As I was walking down the street, I saw this new restaurant that just opened.  It is owned by the Owner of Grezia, an Italian restaurant nearby.  They decided to open a trendy casual restaurant with a "downtown" ambiance.  So, after a busy day today, we decided to try it.
Above, you see the entrance to the restaurant.  The big windows can be opened as they did on this day for Al-fresco dining. (It was a beautiful warm Spring day)

The menu interested me.  What caught my eye was the Meat Platter appetizer and then the Lamb Osso Bucco

 The Meat Platter was delicious.  From left to right:  Boar prosciutto, Lamb Prosciutto, Duck Prosciutto, duck terrine, dry boar sausage and dry duck sausage.

I was told they ran out of bread to go with the meats and served us the tomato focaccia  and some raisin breads, which I pointed out drowned the delicate flavors of the meats.  The Owner then solved the problem and removed the tomato crust on top, then grilled the focaccia bread and apologized they had just opened.  I guess my fussiness actually helped them.

It is a good dish to order which I highly recommend.  In fact, if you order a salad and this platter; it could be one's meal!

The Lamb Osso Buco was fork tender and deliciously made served with garlic potato.

The Lamb Osso Buco is a large dish as you can see.

The cod was flaky with a sweet sauce served with grilled bok choi.
It's a good restaurant to have around the neighborhood.